When Plum resident Seth DeSabato's wife started watching a show about beard competitions last year, he didn't think a whole lot about it.
Fast forward to today, and DeSabato hasn't shaved in seven months and he has founded the Steel City Beard & Mustache Club, a Pittsburgh chapter of Beard Team USA.
"My wife was watching 'Whisker Wars,' and she encouraged me to get into it," said DeSabato, who is an owner of in Oakmont. "We went to the National Beard and Moustache Competition in Lancaster, and it was a crazy good time. It was the weirdest, strangest thing I've ever seen in my life."
Beard competitions are held all over the country. Competitors grow facial hair to show off in different categories, such as freestyle, full beard, natural and more.
After attending his first competition, DeSabato began to research the concept. He realized there wasn't a whole lot for beard lovers in the Pittsburgh area, so he created the Steel City Beard & Mustache Club at the end of last year. The first meeting was held in January.
DeSabato said he formed the club to support and promote the growth and respect of facial hair in and around Pittsburgh, and to travel to competitions to represent the area. However, members don't have to compete or even have facial hair. There also aren't any dues for the club.
"Not a lot of people have heard about this," DeSabato said. "The best description for this that I have heard is that it's like a beauty pageant for guys, but the beauty is in the facial hair and there's no talent portion."
Growing a beard isn't as easy as it may seem, he said.
"I always had hair on my chin because I don't my chin, but I never let it go for more than a month," DeSabato said. "When I started growing my beard, it was OK for the first month, but then it got itchy and started getting in the way. Some days I just want to shave it, but I really want to let it go for a year."
DeSabato said he also has been introduced to the art of styling facial hair. He waxes his mustache to get it out of his mouth and combs out the knots after showers.
"My wife says I take longer to get ready than she does now," he said with a laugh. "I never thought I'd be going to Sally Beauty Supply to buy things for my beard."
Ultimately, DeSabato said the club and the concept is fun-driven. He said he hopes to organize a beard competition in Pittsburgh some time next year.
"You meet so many different people, and it's really not about the winning as much as it is about the camaraderie," he said. "I don't know that I'll have a beard for the rest of my life, but it's definitely something I'm going to stick with. It's too much fun to walk away from."
Interested in joining?
For more information about the Steel City Beard & Mustache Club, visit www.signsbychi.com/steel-city-beards.html or the club's Facebook page. You also can email SteelCityBeards@gmail.com. The club's next meeting is at 7 p.m. April 27 at the Rivertowne Pourhouse in Monroeville. Everyone is welcome to attend.
DeSabato is participating in the NHL Beard-A-Thon for the third year in a row. He is seeking pledges for the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Mario Lemieux Foundation as the Penguins continue their journey in the playoffs. Visit his page at www.beardathon.com/penguins/SteelCityBeards/profile.aspx to make a donation.
This story originally appeared on Plum-Oakmont Patch.